NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – In advance of National Health Care Decisions Day on April 16, more than six in 10 New Jerseyans say they are mostly comfortable with getting older and have even thought about and discussed their wishes for medical treatment near the end of their life. What residents are actually doing to prepare for this moment, and how familiar they are with important end-of-life care options, is another story, however.
In the inaugural Rutgers-Eagleton/New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute Health Matters Poll, 61 percent of New Jerseyans say they are comfortable thinking about the idea of getting older; 19 percent are not comfortable with it but still think about it, and 17 percent would rather not think about it at all.
A similarly solid majority has thought about their wishes for end-of-life care (33 percent have given some thought, another 33 percent a great deal), and 62 percent have had a conversation with someone about it in the event they become terminally ill or are suffering from a great deal of pain.But six in 10 New Jerseyans have not put their wishes in writing. And while most residents (78 percent) are familiar with hospice care and half (50 percent) know of the New Jersey State Advance Directive, far fewer recognize other crucial end-of-life care options like palliative care (45 percent), the living will advance directive “Five Wishes” (24 percent), or the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form known as POLST (27 percent).
“People care and think about end-of-life plans, but they are not taking action and are mostly unaware of what opportunities are available,” said Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “This issue is critical to New Jersey, a state where people are more likely to die in a health care facility and less likely to use hospice services than residents of almost any other state. New Jersey has among the highest use of medical interventions in the last six months of life.”
Results are from a statewide poll of 886 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from April 1 to 8, 2016. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish. To read the entire poll, visit here.